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Soccer: Four more World Cup stadiums ready next month- minister

FIFA Secretary General Valcke, former Brazilian striker Ronaldo and Luis Fernandes, executive secretary of the Ministry of Sports, look on during a visit to the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro

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FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke (L), former Brazilian striker and member of the 2014 World Cup local …

By Mike Collett

COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (Reuters) - Four stadiums being used at next year's World Cup finals will be ready and presented to FIFA in January, only a few weeks behind schedule, Brazil's deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes said on Wednesday.

The only stadiums still causing major headaches with six months to go before the tournament are the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba and the Itaquera Corinthians in Sao Paulo where two workers died last week when a crane collapsed on to the stadium.

Fernandes told reporters: "The stadiums in Natal, Manaus, Porto Alegre and Cuiaba were ready or almost ready in December in time for FIFA's December 31 deadline.

"But because of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the stadiums will be opened in January.

"In all, 10 of the stadiums are now ready, leaving just Curitiba and Sao Paulo which won't be ready much before February."

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said on Tuesday the stadiums in Cuiaba, Curitiba and Sao Paulo would not be ready before February but sports minister Aldo Rebelo, in a rambling and confusing speech on Wednesday made light of the delays.

Rebelo's long-winded speech - comparing the late delivery of the stadiums to a bride turning up late for her wedding - gave the impression of disorganization and chaos at the heart of the preparations, a picture Fernandes was quick to repair.

Rebelo said: "There is always a bride and a groom at a wedding and 100 per cent of the time the bride is always late. But I have never known a wedding not to happen because of it."

FIFA and the government are waiting for a technical report into last week's accident in Sao Paulo but there now seems no doubt the stadium will be ready for the opening match on June 12 and that the other 11 stadiums will also be finished in time.

(Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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